Ideas for Contemporary Living

Tag: Venice

Snapshot #18

Posted on May 19th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There. No Comments

The traditional Japanese tea house is a humble structure, often set in a garden, that balances concepts of Wabi-Sabi  — the Japanese aesthetic centered on impermanence and imperfection. Hiroshi Sugimoto, the photographer, upturns the idea of this humble structure for the Venice Biennale, creating a glass box set in a pool of Bizazza Tile. Yet this Tea House captures the modern spirit with a mix of materials which are highly reflective and dull, rustic and modern, unexpected and common, durable and fragile, humble and refined.  I am a huge fan of Sugimoto, Wabi-Sabi and Venice…to me this is the perfect storm. Maybe you will agree.

David Bjørngaard, May 2106

Venice, again

Posted on October 16th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There, The Moment. No Comments

Venice is one of those cities which you cannot go to enough, so I am circling back once again to tell this tale. The mysteries of Venice reveal themselves slowly, each time you go. On this last trip I explored more of the great culinary and artistic traditions which this great city has to offer.

My first stop on this trip was to the fish market, the heart of Venice’s culinary soul, where you see Venetians shopping for their dinner. I too wanted to know what was for dinner!

My favorite place in Venice is the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, a 700 year old library with modern and post-modern architectural interventions, and with an art collection of Baroque, Rococo, and modern art. The first floor museum and garden were designed by Carlo Scarpa. These spaces are a sublime ebb and flow of the water, the foundation of the city. I also enjoy how the work of Maria Morganti  (color field paintings) interpret the fantastic paintings by Bellini and Tiepolo. In many respects the play of old and new animate this museum, and the lack of crowds is refreshing.

Next we treated ourselves to the perfect Italian donut. Half the fun was navigating the city to get to this shop written … Read More »

Snapshot #11

Posted on July 15th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There, The Moment. No Comments

Stepping into the Palazzo Grassi in Venice provided an unexpected discovery: a courtyard transformed by an installation by American artist Doug Wheeler.  It was really surreal.  One minute, Sean and I were walking along the Grand Canal, weaving our way down narrow alleys and over tiny bridges, and the next we were standing in an empty courtyard, where natural light was absent. It was like a courtyard of snow on a hot Italian day!

To experience this, we had to put on little protective booties to walk into the space. A gradually shifting array of color and brightness made the space expand to an inperceptable distance, and contract to oppressiveness: sort of like being in San Marco Square, mobbed with tourists.

Wheeler is part of the Light and Space movement that came out of California in the 1970’s, and let’s just say I’m a huge fan. This group focus on perceptual distortions was a unique result of observational naturalism, technologies developed from the aerospace military industry, and lots of psychedelic drugs. A good Light and Space installation can be very trippy, placing demands on our perception of depth and color. Worth the trip!

David Bjørngaard, July 2014

Snapshot is a Tuesday series of inspiring images — things that interests me … Read More »


Posted on July 10th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There. No Comments

The trip to Europe in June was great.  Sean and I visited Italy, Malta, Turkey and Greece, with multiple city and island stops along the way.  I love the Mediterranean: the history, the food, the beaches, and laid back culture.  There’s so much to see, and so much to tell you about.

Our last stop {top of mind so I will share it first} was Venice. Both Sean and I have been lucky enough to visit Venice before, so we could avoid some of the crowds and focus on a path less traveled.  Here are some of the design highlights.

Olivetti Showroom, right on St. Marks Square, is a little jewel by Carlo Scarpa, the Venetian architect who morphed modern and vernacular design to create a highly expressive, localized modernism.


In the 19th century, Mariano Fortuny transformed a Gothic Palazzo into his own photography, stage-design, textile-design and painting atelier. Now open to the public, the Fortuny Museum is the antithesis of modern design, as it is decorated in the Romantic style when dream and myth combined.



There is an abundance of great modern design in Venice, and one happens upon these moments when wandering aimlessly, and getting lost in Venice.


Next time…the fish market, lot’s of cafes, and the Puenta della Dogana di … Read More »

Spritz and cichèti

Posted on June 7th, by David Bjorngaard in The Moment. No Comments

To feel like you are in Venice (or Rome) just make a tall ice-cold Spritz. It is the perfect summer drink: easy to make, and easy to sip in the sun (or San Franciso’s fog). Here’s how:

Ingredients for one


1 large green olive, drained of brine (do not use the olives stored in oil)

75 ml dry white wine or Prosecco (about 3 shot glasses)

50 ml Aperol (about 2 shot glasses)

Splash of soda water

1 slice of lemon (or orange)

Take a large timber and fill it with ice. Add the olive onto a cocktail skewer and put into the glass. Combine the Prosecco and Aperol (in a 3 to 2 ratio) with a splash of soda water in the glass, and garnish with lemon or orange.

If you want to immerse yourself further into a world of Venetian drink and food, get the book Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (of sorts) and soon you will be sensing Venice for yourself. If you are hungry, make a few cichèti (something like a tapas: a small snack, or a meal) to have along with your Spritz, and you will have a lovely afternoon.

David Bjørngaard, June 2014